Tel Aviv Dance '07
The Popper Collective (UK)
Watching an hour of dance consisting of 21 dance miniatures, some no more than 60 seconds long, can be tedious - particularly if it is meant to be uplifting and good fun. It's easy to blame cultural gaps when it comes to humor, but these corporal theatrics didn't quite work the way punch-lines do in stand-up comedy.
Dancers Michael Popper, Sally Owen and Peter Baldwin are all seasoned dancers, who posses huge and versatile performance skills. In Baldwin and Owen's cases, acting runs in their veins and they handle each move with elegance and endless charm. Based on his short solo, Popper is a musically sensitive dancer with a sculpted body - a true goldmine for photographers.
The loose structure of fast-changing comedy scenes in this piece often came off as juvenile fun - but is dropping a baby doll on its head on three separate occasions funny enough to repeat?
It's hard to create full theatrical context without using words, even with the tight camaraderie between the these three. The program that this UK guest company brought to the Tel Aviv Dance Festival resembled crumbcake without the cake, and may have missed the mark.
Tel Aviv Dance '07
Talia Paz (Israel), Antonio Montanile (Belgium), Michael Popper (UK)
The stage at Suzanne Dellal can be supportive of solo dancers who know how to use it well, and Talia Paz has gained some expertise in this regard. She opened with "Solo for Two," created by refined Swedish choreographer Mats Ek and set to music by Arvo Part. Paz danced this solo on several occasions in the past, but each time it seems to get better, sadder, and more desperate.
That artful dancer, perhaps the best Israel ever produced, rightly chose to open the evening with a choreography which is right up her alley. The second solo "Allegro Blue," was a novice self-choreographic attempt. Although it needed massive editing, it possessed many ingredients that make her a sincere artist.
Young Belgian dancer Antonio Montanile's best feature is a winning smile. His work, "Nothing is too important," may reflect his personal experience, but was less than convincing artistically.
Than came Michael Popper (UK) who has been dancing for ages and has a reputation as an innovative creator. He performed two solos which shed a clearer light on his personal vocabulary, body perception and kinesthetic choices.
His most expressive features are his arms and face, his upper body follows, but is often bent, as if trying to shelter his chest. From the waist down, he has an all together different personality; tight, reluctant, dry. The dual message sent by his body is perplexing, yet intriguing.